image: University of Chicago Magazine - logo

link to: featureslink to: class news, books, deathslink to: chicago journal, college reportlink to: investigationslink to: editor's notes, letters, chicagophile, course work
link to: back issueslink to: contact forms, address updateslink to: staff info, ad rates, subscriptions

FEBRUARY 2000 (print version)

Chicago Journal:
Campus News (print version)

Music man Don Randel chosen as University’s 12th president

"My own journey to Chicago has been rather long,” began the silver-haired man at the podium. Don Michael Randel, the provost of Cornell University, had been elected to the presidency of the University of Chicago only minutes before. Now he had to introduce himself to the University and the city via his first U of C news conference. “I thought the Odyssey was supposed to end in Ithaca,” he quipped, drawing chuckles from his audience. “It turns out I was mistaken about that. After a mere delay of 32 years, I have found my way at last.”

Randel was greeted with smiles as broad as his own on December 13, the day the U of C’s Board of Trustees ratified his nomination as Chicago’s 12th president. Taking office on July 1, he succeeds Hugo F. Sonnenschein. This past June, Sonnenschein, who has served as president since 1993, announced his decision to return to full-time teaching and research as a member of the University’s economics department. Following Sonnenschein’s announcement, the trustee presidential search committee worked closely with a faculty advisory committee to find presidential candidates, recommending Randel on December 9--the same day he celebrated his 59th birthday.

“Don was an early favorite of our committee, and he maintained that position even as we considered hundreds of candidates,” said Edgar D. Jannotta, chairman of the board and chair of the search committee. “He impressed us enormously, both personally and professionally. He is a distinguished scholar with an appreciation for research across disciplines, and he understands the University’s intellectual environment.”

Randel, the Given Foundation professor of musicology at Cornell, joined its faculty in 1968, and he has served as the school’s provost since 1995. “It is not easy for me to leave Cornell, and I could only leave it for another institution that is in its own way equally unique,” he told the Cornell Chronicle, a faculty and staff newspaper. “The University of Chicago is such an institution, and one whose particular devotion to intellectual ideals without compromise or apology I share.”

A specialist in Renaissance and medieval music who plays jazz piano and trumpet, Randel has edited the New Harvard Dictionary of Music (1986), the Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (1996), and the Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1999). He grew up in Panama, where his father owned a small business. Though his favorite high-school teacher, Donald Musselman, AM’50, encouraged him to go to Chicago, Randel chose to attend Princeton, where he received his B.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. in music. He wrote his dissertation on the chant of the Mozarabic rite--liturgical music and text used by the Roman Catholic church in Spain before and during the 11th century. An honorary Woodrow Wilson fellow, Danforth graduate fellow, and Fulbright award winner, Randel was editor in chief of the Journal of the American Musicological Society from 1972 to 1974 and the society’s vice president from 1977 to 1978. At Cornell, Randel has served in a number of administrative posts, including department chair, vice provost, associate dean of the college of arts and sciences, and Harold Tanner dean of the college of arts and sciences.

On the morning of Randel’s election, Sonnenschein began the 11 a.m. news conference, held in the Ida Noyes library, with tributes to the University and its next president. “It is a glorious day for the University, for it will go forward with the confidence it has selected outstanding new leadership,” he announced. “And it is a glorious day for Don Randel, because he will have the honor and the enormous satisfaction to care for and to lead the university that sets the standards for so much of what is best in higher education.”

Next, geophysical scientist Frank Richter, SM’71, PhD’72, who chaired the search’s faculty advisory committee, explained what that committee had been looking for in a candidate--and found in Randel: “The task that was given to the advisory committee, very simply put, was to find an outstanding scholar whom we would be proud to have on our faculty. He should also be a person who not only believes that the University of Chicago is one of the truly outstanding institutions of the world, but also understands the values and traditions that make it so. We were seeking a person with a powerful and persuasive voice, so he could remind us--and also explain to those who do not yet know us well--why it’s so important that there has been a University of Chicago for over 100 years, and why it’s so important to continue. And beyond all of that, we need somebody to take a role of leadership in an institution that Don himself has already characterized as ungovernable.”

The audience laughed at the reference--the December 9 Chicago Tribune had quoted Randel calling universities “ungovernable” because “you’re running a billion-dollar-a-year business and yet there is no one to whom you can give a direct personal order.” Richter concluded, “We have found the president for the University of Chicago who really exceeded what we had the right to expect when we started this process.”

Randel himself seemed equally honored. Taking the podium in a navy pinstriped suit and paisley tie, he said, “The University of Chicago is a one-of-a-kind institution. It represents the best of the values that I cherish the most....It’s an institution that the United States and the world need more now than ever.”

Maintaining those values, he said, is the biggest challenge facing the University. “Trollope describes one of his characters as someone who had arrogance of thought unsustained by first-rate abilities. One knows people like that, and one can even think of an institution or two whose arrogance outran their abilities,” he said with a wry grin. “At Chicago, we must never become the object of such a claim. We must pursue, as we have always in our history--without compromise, without apology--the principles that underlie the pursuit of understanding in all fields of scholarship and in the arts.”

Randel noted that not only was he looking forward to being a part of Chicago’s music department, but also to finding out about everybody’s work, “students and faculty alike.” He and his wife, Carol, are equally excited, he said, about moving to the city of Chicago and taking advantage of its cultural institutions. The couple has four grown daughters: Amy Constable Keating, Julia Randel, Emily Constable Pershing, and Sally Randel Eggert. Like his predecessors, Randel will live in the president’s house at 59th Street and University Avenue. “The city and the University have done much productive work together,” he said, “and I look forward to advancing that from the neighborhood of Hyde Park, where I expect to be a citizen and expect to be seen walking on the streets regularly.”

During the Q & A session that followed, Randel was asked about his plans for the University. Noting that a “biological revolution” is taking place in the sciences, and the U of C needs to keep pace with those advances, Randel also said the University has a head start on another education trend, an increasing tendency toward interdisciplinary work in the humanities and the social sciences.

Asked what he had learned and achieved as Cornell’s provost, Randel replied, “The only good ideas come from the faculty.” He added, “It’s been my job simply to try to get behind them, to resolve the inevitable differences about them, and see us move ahead where we had an important need to move ahead.” At Cornell, Randel has commissioned a task force on the biological sciences; helped develop a program to recruit the brightest undergraduates through special research opportunities and financial support; led the development of procedures to respond to sexual harassment complaints; and helped draft a campus housing policy designed to improve undergraduate life.

Said Cornell’s president, Hunter R. Rawlings III, “Cornell has benefited enormously from his intelligence, integrity, energy, powers of persuasion, and commitment to students....Don Randel’s leadership will be felt not only at Chicago, but throughout the nation.”--K.S.

Hughes’ $17.6 million gift goes toward new research facility

The biggest new building called for in the campus master plan--the Interdivisional Research Building (IRB), designed to enhance collaboration between researchers from the biological and physical sciences divisions--also has a big price tag: approximately $131.5 million. But in January, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) came through with a big gift--$17.6 million--to help fund the IRB’s construction.

Groundbreaking for the IRB is planned for the summer of 2000, with construction to be completed in 2003. Approximately 375,000 square feet in size, the building will be located along the south side of 57th Street between Drexel and Ellis Avenues, on a site currently occupied by Whitman Laboratory, the Visual Sciences Center, and Phemister Hall.

The IRB will house faculty from the University’s new Institute for Biophysical Dynamics; scientists from the biochemistry & molecular biology department and the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research; the entire chemistry department; physicists from the James Franck Institute; and the University’s seven Hughes investigators.

Sponsoring investigators at universities and academic medical centers across the United States, the HHMI provides more than 20 percent of all private, nonprofit support for medical research in the nation. The Hughes grant will pay construction costs for 33,700 square feet--about 10 percent of the new structure--to be devoted to the U of C Hughes investigators’ laboratories and offices. Those investigators--professors Elaine V. Fuchs; Nipam H. Patel; Susan L. Lindquist; Donald F. Steiner, SM’56, MD’56; Graeme I. Bell; Harinder Singh; and Joseph A. Piccirilli--will move from their current space in the U of C Hospitals.

“We are extremely pleased that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute shares our vision that incredible science will result from juxtaposing these scientists in a single place,” says Glenn D. Steele Jr., dean of the Biological Sciences Division and vice president for medical affairs. “We expect that this combination will lead to the development of high-impact projects that transcend the boundaries separating the traditional disciplines of the biological and physical sciences.”

The IRB’s effect will transcend the physical facility itself, Steele says. With one of its main entrances facing south, the IRB will help create a new science quadrangle with the Crerar Library, the Cummings Life Science Center, the Henry Hinds Laboratory for the Geophysical Sciences, and the Samuel Kersten Jr. Physics Teaching Center. In addition to providing a focal point for researchers on all sides of the IRB, the new structure will have a less visible asset: its new central loading area, connected to an extension of the service tunnel system, will allow equipment and supplies to be transported easily between buildings.--K.S


Winning Economics
Former U of C professor Robert Mundell earned the 1999 Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences. Now a professor at Columbia University, Mundell was recognized for work done at Chicago, showing how international capital movement can affect an individual country's ability to manage its own economy. The award marks Chicago's 71st Nobel Prize, its 19th prize in economics.

Twice lucky
J. M. Coetzee, a visiting professor in the Committee on Social Thought, received the 1999 Booker Prize, Britain's top fiction award, for his novel Disgrace. Coetzee--who also won in 1983 for his novel Life & Times of Michael K--is the first author to win the Booker twice.

Solid work
The Geological Society of America honored Frank M. Richter, SM'71, PhD'72, the Sewell Avery distinguished service professor in geophysical sciences, with its George Wollard Award. The annual award recognizes outstanding contributions to geology. The GSA cited Richter's work using fluid dynamics to discuss the driving mechanism of plate tectonics.

Medical dedication
The City Council of Chicago renamed the 5800 block of Maryland Avenue to honor gastroenterologist Joseph B. Kirsner, PhD'42, the Louis Block distinguished service professor in medicine. The sign unveiling--along with a dinner and a lecture--marked Kirsner's 90th birthday.

Who's at Weiss?
In November, Edward A. Cucci became president and chief operating officer of Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital, the U of C Hospitals's north--side facility. Cucci, who also serves as a vice president of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System, succeeds Greg Cierlik, president of Weiss since 1995.

Double the awards
The David and Lucille Packard Foundation named Ka Yee Lee, assistant professor of chemistry, a 1999 Packard fellow. Lee will use the $625,000 grant for her research on lung surfactant, a mixture of lipids and proteins that assists the breathing process. Lee was also named a 1999 Searle scholar, an honor that brings an additional $180,000 grant.

Distinguished quartet
Four University faculty members have been named to distinguished service professorships: Homi Bhabha, English; Sheila Fitzpatrick, history; Mark Strand, Committee on Social Thought; and John Cacioppo, psychology.

Named to named posts
Michael Camille is the first Mary L. Block professor in art history, and Anne Robertson is the first Claire Dux Swift professor in music. In the Graduate School of Business, Pradeep Chintagunta is now the Robert Law Jr. professor, Steven Kaplan is the Neubauer Family professor of entrepreneurship and finance, Abbie Smith is the Irene and Boris Stern professor, Ruey Tsay is the H. G. B. Alexander professor, and Mark Zmijewski is the Leon Carroll Marshall professor. John Mark Hansen was named the William R. Kenan Jr. professor in political science.

Joining the fold
Twelve scholars recently joined Chicago's faculty as full professors: Bennett Bertenthal and John Cacioppo, psychology; John Brewer, English; James Conant and John Haugeland, philosophy; Donald Harper, East Asian languages & civilizations; Michael Hopkins and Richard Jordan, chemistry; Steven Lalley, statistics; Mark Lilla, the Committee on Social Thought; Philip Reny, economics; and George Triantis, the Law School.

High--energy honored
The American Philosophical Society elected James W. Cronin, SM'53, PhD'55, University professor emeritus in physics and astronomy & astrophysics, to its membership.


It would seem that the University of Chicago folks have more in common with Fox Mulder than with Dana Scully: the October 18 Chicago Sun-Times reported that 173 people on the domain had participated in a University of California at Berkeley-based effort to look for alien life. Berkeley's Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project uses a radio telescope to scan the sky for signals from outer space. But the project can't afford a supercomputer to crunch the data gathered by the telescope, so Berkeley set up the SETI@home Web site ( and asked for help from around the world. Users download the software from the site and run the program as a screensaver or a background program. At the time of the article, more than 1,300,000 people had participated, with the U of C crowd crunching 30,267 packets of data--taking the equivalent of 61 years of idle computer time.

Technology Review magazine pegged Chicago's Bruce Lahn, 31, as a young innovator to watch for by naming him one of its "TR100" in its 100th anniversary issue this past fall. The new assistant professor in the departments of human genetics and molecular genetics & cell biology and the Committee on Genetics catalogued the genes of the human Y chromosome for his thesis at MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. As a postdoctoral researcher, the magazine explains, "He demonstrated that the Y chromosome carries a wealth of genes implicated in male fertility, a discovery that could open the way for new infertility treatments, perhaps even a male birth control pill that would work by deactivating key genes."

You've seen the University of Chicago Hospitals helicopter on ER--now, tune into cable TV's Discovery Health Channel to see the Hospitals themselves. Launched last August, the channel includes such programming as Lifeline, a real-life anthology series offering a look behind the scenes at some of the world's leading medical institutions. Lifeline producers decided to include the University of Chicago Hospitals because of the city's recognition in the medical dramas Chicago Hope and ER. Shows featuring the Hospitals follow an established group of staff and interns and focus on their interactions with patients and families.


Construction season begins No sooner had the campus master plan been approved ("Completion of campus master plan leads to building boom," October/99) than it began materializing. In December, workers broke ground on the new parking structure on 55th Street between Ellis and Greenwood Avenues. Designed by New Haven, Connecticut, architect Cesar Pelli, the five-story building (one story is underground) will offer 1,080 spaces, for a net gain of about 700 campus parking spaces. The ground floor will hold a combination of recreational, entertainment, and eating facilities--possibly a bowling alley, billiards parlor, and a restaurant and bar. The building should open in late autumn.

On other building fronts, Bruner/Cott & Associates Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been chosen to design Bartlett Gymnasium's renovation, while Sasaki Associates Inc., based in Massachusetts and San Francisco, has been chosen to develop a campus-wide landscape plan to strengthen the sense of community. Bruner/Cott will convert Bartlett to a dining hall and construct a one-story addition for food storage and a loading dock. According to Steve Klass, deputy dean of student services, the new 550-seat dining facility will be nearly twice the size of any dining room on campus. Serving more than 1,000 students, the dining room will be on the second floor--where the basketball courts now are. The track that runs above the courts will not be torn down but may be closed if it can't be brought up to code. No decision has been made yet regarding the future of the basement pool.

Whither Jimmy's? Fans of Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap are crying in their beers--but not at Jimmy's. In May 1999, three months after the death of owner Jimmy Wilson ("Jimmy of Jimmy's dies at age 86," April/99), the fabled watering hole at 55th Street and Woodlawn Avenue closed when Wilson's liquor license expired. Wilson's heirs sold the bar to longtime Jimmy's manager Bill Callahan and his brother, Jim Callahan, who planned to apply for a new city liquor license and quickly reopen the bar for business.

Instead, the Callahans and the University of Chicago--which owns the Woodlawn Tap building--discovered that a number of renovations were needed before the bar could pass inspection. After repairing the roof, replacing the wiring, installing new fixtures, and enlarging the bathrooms, the Callahan brothers applied for a Chicago liquor license late last year.

And the city rejected it. The reason: the bar's proximity to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church and School. A state statute prohibits the sale of liquor within 100 feet of a church or school entrance. Jimmy's is more than 100 feet from the school entrance, but only 89 feet away from the parking lot, often used as a playground. The Callahans have hired a lawyer to contest the decision.

Film program expands Film emerged as a doctoral-degree-granting program ("Reel Scholarship," April/1997) at the U of C this past fall when the Committee on Cinema & Media Studies admitted four graduate students to its inaugural class. U of C undergraduates had been able to concentrate in cinema and media studies for several years; already the committee has had several hundred requests for information on graduate studies.

The doctoral program focuses on the history, theory, and criticism of film and related media. Students must complete 16 quarter-long courses, three required and the rest elective. At least eight of those courses must be listed among the committee's offerings. The required classes are Methods and Issues in Cinema Studies and Film History, a two-quarter survey course for beginning graduate students or advanced undergraduates. Students also must demonstrate proficiency in two modern foreign languages.

Echoing the program's international, interdisciplinary nature, the committee's faculty comes from a variety of departments. Members are: committee chair James Lastra, associate professor in English; art history professors Tom Gunning, Joel M. Snyder, SB'61, and Yuri Tsivian; Miriam Hansen and Jacqueline Stewart, AM'93, PhD'99, of the English department; Laura Letinsky of the Committee on the Visual Arts; David J. Levin and Katie Trumpener, associate professors in Germanic Studies; and Rebecca West, professor in Romance languages and literatures. Students can also draw upon two dozen resource faculty members.

"The committee is extremely fortunate to have such an incredible faculty," says Lastra. "Some of the film scholars currently at the University--people like Miriam Hansen and Tom Gunning--are really the people who've helped to redefine the field as a whole."

Economic abundance Sherwin Rosen, AM'62, PhD'66, the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman distinguished service professor in economics, will become president of the American Economics Association (AEA) in 2001. Rosen, editor of the Journal of Political Economy and a microeconomist with expertise in labor economics and industrial organization, will be the fourth U of C economist in five years to hold the post. Economics professor emeritus D. Gale Johnson ("Gale Force," December/97) was the AEA's 1999 president; Nobelist and GSB professor Robert Fogel was president in 1998; and economics professor emeritus Arnold Harberger, AM'47, PhD'50, headed the group in 1997.

During the coming year, Rosen will oversee the budget and coordinate preparations for the 2001 meeting, which should draw nearly 7,000 people.--K.S.


The Place of the Antique in Early Modern Europe, through February 29. Featuring paintings, bronze sculptures, porcelain, and decorative arts, this exhibit explores the impact of classical ruins and ancient Greek and Roman culture on new artistic styles and the collecting of antiques in 16th- through 18th-century Europe. The exhibit offers insights into the influence of the ever-present classical past on later Italian cultures. Smart Museum; call 773/702-0200.

Jewish Liturgical Music, February 27 at 3 p.m. Randi Von Ellefson conducts the Rockefeller Chapel Choir, the University Chorus, and the Motet Choir as they perform music from the Jewish tradition. Cantors Deborah Bard and Alberto Mizrahi and Chicago professional Jewish choir Halevi join them. Rockefeller Memorial Chapel; call 773/702-7300.

Women in Ancient Egypt, March 8 at 7 p.m. The Oriental Institute celebrates Women’s History Month with a gallery talk that explores the role of women in ancient Egypt. View clothing, jewelry, furnishings, and decorative arts found at ancient sites ranging from temples and tombs to royal palaces. Oriental Institute; call 773/702-9507.

H.M.S. Pinafore, March 9–March 12. Hyde Park’s Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company presents its 40th anniversary production, a tale of love on the high seas. The University Chamber Orchestra also performs. Mandel Hall; call 773/702-7300.

Stewart Goodyear, March 14 at 8 p.m. The Regents Park Discovery Concert features pianist Stewart Goodyear. In his Chicago recital debut, Goodyear performs his own works as well as pieces by Mozart and Rachmaninoff. Mandel Hall; call 773/702-8068.

 link to: top of the page


uchicago® ©2000 The University of Chicago® Magazine 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637
phone: 773/702-2163 fax: 773/702-2166